By Larry Ray Hafley
“Send all questions to the writer of this column.”
Question: Departure from Illinois: “How can it be proved that Jesus was raised from the dead on Sunday, the first day of the week?”
Reply: No teaching of Scripture is more fully and clearly taught than the fact that Jesus was raised from the dead on the first day of the week. However, Sabbatarians of every stripe and texture have stripped and tortured the word of God in order to prove that Jesus was raised on Saturday, the Sabbath. Their efforts have deceived many and confused others.
The Third Day
“From that time forth began Jesus to shew unto his disciples, how that he must go unto Jerusalem, and suffer many things of the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be raised again the third day” (Matt. 16:21). Jesus said, note it carefully, that He would “be raised again the third day.” That is significant in view of Luke’s account. (1) Luke says the disciples “rested the Sabbath day,” Saturday (Lk. 23:56). (2) “Now upon the first day of the week, very early in the morning, they came unto the sepulcher” (Lk. 24:1). (3) They rested on the Sabbath, Saturday. They came to the grave on Sunday, the first day of the week. There the disciples are reminded of Jesus’ words that He would rise again “the third day” (Lk. 24:7). (4) “That same day,” the first day of the week, two disciples went “to a village called Emmaus” (Lk. 24:13). (5) They met the Lord Jesus, but they did not recognize Him. They spoke of Jesus’ death and said, “Today is the third day since these things (Jesus’ condemnation and crucifixion) were done” (Lk. 24:21). So, on “the third day,” which was “the first day of the week,” these two disciples talked with the Lord. But on what day did Jesus say He was to be raised? He said He would “be raised again the third day” (Matt. 16:21). (6) Finally, Jesus said, “Thus it is written, and thus it behooved Christ to suffer, and to rise from the dead the third day” (Lk. 24:46). “The third day” was the first day of the week (Lk. 24:1, 7, 13, 21). Thus, after the disciples rested on the Sabbath, Jesus was raised from the dead on the first day of the week. This was “the third day” since “these things were done.”
Mark says, “And when the Sabbath was past,” certain women came to anoint Jesus’ body (Mk. 16:1). When they arrived at the tomb, they found the corpse missing.
An angel told them, “He is risen.” Then the text says, “Now when Jesus was risen early the first day of the week, he appeared first to Mary Magdalene” (Mk. 16:9). A literal Greek rendering has, “Now having risen early on the first day of the week.” Mary came to the tomb on “the first day of the week,” the day Jesus was raised, and she saw him first (Jn. 20:1, 11-18).
CONCLUSION: If these texts do not establish the fact that Jesus was raised from the dead on the first day of the week, (1) it cannot be proven; (2) the Scriptures are confused and unreliable; (3) and language means nothing.
Truth Magazine XXI: 7, p. 98
February 17, 1977